UPDATE at 5:45 p.m. on MONDAY
Sarah has passed along Sunday's race stats, and the East Haven native finished yesterday's half marathon with a very respectable time of 1:53:26.
Sara said while it wasn't her fastest time for a half so far, the course in New York City "was very hilly and it was extremely humid."
But while the fierce competitor may not have run her personal bests Sunday, she finished an amazing 811 out of more than 7,000 runners — and 136 in her age bracket.
Way to go, Sarah. Congrats!
This Sunday, Sarah Bourdeau will be running — and running and running and running. In fact, the East Haven native will be running 13.1 miles to be exact (and yes, all at once).
Bourdeau is participating in the ninth-annual More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women's Half-Marathon, the largest women’s only half marathon in the country, on April 15.
The race, which will host more than 10,000 women in New York’s Central Park, is open to women runners and walkers of all ages.
Although Bourdeau will be one of those proudly jogging along the race route tomorrow, it was not always certain that she would make it across this finish line. Or the one before that or the one before that or the one before that.
Slowly But Surely
In early January 2011, the graduate was hospitalized for three weeks due to complications that arose from ulcerative colitis.
While in the hospital she lost 24 pounds.
"And I lost most of my muscle mass," Bourdeau said.
By the second week, she thought she might be dying and would never leave the hospital again.
At that point, she decided to create a bucket list on the chance she would survive.
The bucket list included all sorts of things: bike the Pacific Coast Highway, visit the rain forest, among other things. She also included running a 5K race and then a 10K.
Eventually, and thankfully, she began to recover: slowly but surely.
And so, Bourdeau — who had always been active and a bit of a fitness buff — began to think about getting back into her daily exercise routine.
"I had always been active and I was regularly in the gym," she said.
But her doctors said, "No." They told her she wouldn't be able to work out like she did prior to her illness. And running a 5K? Certainly out of the question.
"You're not going to be able to do that," Bourdeau said the doctors told her.
But she wasn't deterred.
"And I said, 'Really?!? Really?!?' she said. "I can't still be an athlete? I can't still do these things — don't tell me what I can't do."
The First Five
That May, a good friend of Bourdeau's asked her to participate in a charity walk to benefit an organization that assists those with autism.
Bourdeau agreed, happy to help out for a good cause. But after thinking about it for a while, she decided to take it one step further.
"I decided to run in the 5K," she said. "And my doctor said I was crazy."
Bourdeau, however, completed the run — her first road race ever. But it wouldn't be be the last.
"At that point: I started running," she said.
Since then, Bourdeau has completed in more than a 5K dozen races. And this weekend's run in New York City will be her third half-marathon.
In fact, she proudly participated in s road race last year.
"I was the first East Haven woman to cross the finish line," she said.
And that's no surprise.
Bourdeau no longer runs just to run, she is there to compete.
When it comes to the longer races, Bourdeau said she runs against her own times, in hopes of continually setting new records for her personal bests.
"But if I'm in a 5K, let me tell you: I'm there to beat you," she said with a smile.
'Tell Me What I Can't Do'
Bourdeau says she feels that running has helped save her life.
She still receives treatments for her illness every eight weeks, which are similar to chemotherapy. But Bourdeau says she feels she's in perhaps the best shape of her life.
"I'm in complete remission," she said. "I really think the running and the training keeps me healthy."'
And that training can be grueling at times. But every step forward, whether on flat or rising ground, is a reminder of the mountain she has climbed.
"I've run in several 5Ks and half marathons, and up next is a full marathon," she said, referring to next month's Vermont marathon.
"I was told I couldn't do it," she said. "And never tell me what I can't do."